angela merkel.jpg
Photograph: EPA/SVEN HOPPE

German Chancellor Angela Merkel admitted Friday that she had made mistakes in how she handled the case of a German satirist who insulted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on live television.

Her criticism of comedian Jan Boehmermann's satirical poem as "purposefully offensive" could have given the impression, incorrectly, that freedom of opinion and of the press were no longer important to her, Merkel said in Berlin.

She continued to defend her controversial decision to allow the courts to look into whether Boehmermann had criminally defamed the Turkish president.

Merkel said she was annoyed that her comments on Boehmermann's poem - which implied Erdogan enjoyed child pornography and had sex with animals, among other insults - gave the impression that her "personal assessment counted for something."

"With hindsight that was a mistake," she said, after a meeting with the premiers of the German federal states.

Her comments provoked heavy criticism in Germany and abroad.

Merkel conceded that the comments had led people to believe she no longer cared for freedom of opinion and of the press, and said she wanted to set the record straight.

Free expression "is important to me, and it will continue to remain important to me, and that guides me in all talks," she said ahead of a meeting on Saturday with Turkish Premier Ahmet Davutoglu.

Human rights and values would always feature in diplomatic discussions, "but human rights, rights to freedom, the rights of the press are indispensable assets," Merkel said.

"And that a situation can arise where it is thought that such things would be abandoned because we just made a deal with Turkey - that was flawed," she said.

Merkel's decision to allow a court case to go ahead had been viewed by many as a concession to Erdogan, who is pivotal in the European Union's attempt to stem a massive wave of migration that saw more than 1 million people enter the bloc via the Mediterranean in 2015. The EU recently signed a deal with Turkey to regulate the flow of migrants.

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